The road from Peckham to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – and how you can help pave the way for others to follow…
If you haven’t heard of Theatre Peckham, you don’t know what you’re missing – especially if you have youngsters in your household.
Formerly known as New Peckham Varieties, Theatre Peckham sits in the heart of one of the poorest communities in the capital. Teresa Early, its irrepressible director, launched the venture almost thirty years ago. Little could she have known back then what a phenomenon the theatre would become.
Each week, not far short of five hundred young local people take part in performing arts workshops, ranging from dance and music through to theatre and drama.
These numbers hide an even more impressive picture of engagement, because youngsters are often accompanied by their mums, dads, brothers or sisters. So the theatre plays a significant role in bringing people together in the heart of the community.
The workshops are of course valuable in their own right, but each year the theatre also puts on shows for the public – most recently Clown, a musical theatre production based on Quentin Blake’s illustrated storybook.
Members in the higher level classes can take nationally accredited exams – BTEC and Trinity Guildhall – that help towards college and university entry, giving a real sense of achievement and opening doors to a better life. One former BTEC student sums up the attraction:
“Theatre Peckham has changed my life. A lot of friends from school ended up in gangs but I ended up with a new family at Theatre Peckham.”
An alumnus who has reached the celebrity heights is John Boyega, male lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He holds Theatre Peckham in the highest regard:
“I admire Theatre Peckham’s continued mission to increase diversity in the creative industries, inspiring young people like myself to be the change we want to see in this industry.”
The theatre will soon take possession of its brand new theatre building on Havil Street, part of the redevelopment of the old Southwark Town Hall that followed the Council’s relocation of its headquarters to Tooley Street. To help fill a shortfall in funding, Theatre Peckham has launched a ‘Sponsor a Seat’ campaign, strongly supported by John Boyega:
“As a graduate of the company I am honoured to be in a position to give back to Theatre Peckham, beginning with the name a seat fundraising campaign.”
The theatre recently heard the good news that the Arts Council’s ‘Catalyst: Evolve’ fund will match-fund sponsorship raised. So if you decide to sponsor a seat, the money will be doubled. What’s not to like about that?
Please join me in sponsoring a seat for the sensational Theatre Peckham. You might just help change a life. Here’s the link: www.theatrepeckham.co.uk/support-us/name-a-seat
Star Wars: the Force Awakens is showing open air in Dulwich Park on 21st August, see: www.thelunacinema.com/dulwich-park